Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Always the Bridegroom, Never the Bride...

Gay marriage is 'wrong', but Civil Partnerships are just dandy
Well, well, well. Terrible earthquakes appear suddenly, out of the blue, while huge uprisings in the Middle East take the World's breath away with surprise, but Austen Ivereigh can always be relied upon to undermine the Infallible Teaching of the Catholic Church on sexual morality and to spread his error and falsehood in the mass media.

Thank you, John Smeaton, Director of the SPUC, for drawing our attention to Mr Ivereigh's latest endorsement of that which is condemned by the Magisterium. It makes me sick to my stomach that Austen is sought out as a spokesman on Catholic issues and that he is paid in order to do so. The least that he could do is actually defend the Catholic Church's position on sexual morality.  Writing for The Guardian, one could be forgiven for thinking that Austen is just going along with the housestyle of the publication, writing for a particular audience. Unfortunately, though, he isn't even doing that. What the Church believes, Austen does not.

While Damian Thompson has raised questions over whether the Bishops Conference of England and Wales really meant what it said when Archbishop Peter Smith released his condemnation of the moves to legalise gay "marriage" religious ceremonies in Churches, or whether the Bishops were leant on by Rome, John Smeaton has provided us with an exemplary analysis of Austen Ivereigh's latest outrageous misrepresentation of the Catholic Faith. Of course, it isn't really a misrepresentation of the Catholic Faith as such, when Austen is speaking 'from the Throne', ex cathedra, so to speak, the kind of liberal diahorrea to which we have all grown accustomed. He's quite consistent like that, you know. In a way, you always know where you stand with Austen because you can take the Catechism of the Catholic Church and just know he's going to say something that contradicts it totally.

Austen's latest offerings. Isn't he just so quotable? 

"Civil partnership is a fine thing, and should be extended. But the government's desire to create 'gay marriage' is quite wrong".

"There are many kinds of loving, committed relationships. And it's good that the state supports them. It would have been much better if the legal privileges of the Civil Partnership Act of 2004 were not restricted to same-sex couples, but were available – as in France and Italy – to maiden aunts, marriage-phobic men and women, the disabled and their lifelong carers. It is right that people who commit themselves – lovingly, sometimes even sexually – to each other, and express that in stability and commitment, to have inheritance and hospital-visiting rights, tax breaks and the like. But civil partnerships are not marriage."

The question Austen could address, but won't, and quite possibly never will, is this. Austen, why is so-called gay marriage "wrong" but Civil Partnerships in which people of the same sex commit themselves "lovingly, sometimes even sexually" to each other not wrong? Come on, Austen! What is wrong with him? It's like he only does foreplay with Catholic teaching. He just can't go 'all the way'. Ah well, who can blame him. I mean, if he actually communicated the Catholic Faith, he'd lose friends in the media, wouldn't he? He'd be unpopular with many. He'd be hated by many of those who read his articles or listen to his musings on the Faith in the media. The Tablet would distance themselves from him. He'd be persecuted by the liberal establishment for speaking out for the Truth. He'd be derided as a 'Taliban Catholic' or something else. Then, maybe, just maybe, he might be worthy of his presumably quite ample salary. Coveting the jobs of others is sinful, of course, but O my...What I would give to have Austen's job! You know, Austen, if I could reach the number of souls who read your stuff, I'd still do it for the what I get now as the book-keeper and secretary of St Mary Magdalen Church, Brighton...


Left-footer said...

And you'd be doing a great job.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you say, Laurence. But if we are to have civil partnerships at all, it is a great injustice that people who are in non-sexual relationships are not allowed them. If they were to be extended to anyone who wanted one - siblings, friends, parent and child - anyone - so they could get the tax breaks, it would, I think, emphasise that they are not marriage, nor another form of it.

But of course, if this were to be allowed, there would be even greater cries for actual marriage to be extended to same sex couples - and then what? Calls of injustice again - for if same sex 'marriage' is allowed, then why not extend marriage itself to siblings, parent and child or any pair of people? The word and the concept starts to lose all meaning.

The whole civil partnership idea was a Pandora's box - it should never have been opened - but now that it has been, we need to consider what we should be fighting for. And I'm not sure that I know.

The Bones said...

Elizabeth. Precisely.

I think Austen makes a good case for this. I don't think his article is terrible in its totality, I just think that, as a Catholic, he should not 'muddy the waters' so to speak on same-sex unions recognised by the State. He seems to think that it is wrong for the State to sanction gay "marriage" but that the State can and should sanction same-sex unions in Civil Partnerships, because these unions were so obviously framed as sexual unions, leading us onto your point. That these Civil Partnerships are for 'couples' of the same-sex, in which sexual activity is most likely taking place.

I know he feels aggrieved by John Smeaton's criticism of him (I don't know if he reads my blog) but all that we ask is that he defends not just marriage, but the Church's teaching in its entirety.

The CPs are here whether we like it or not. As you say, and as he suggests, it is precisely because they were framed by Stonewall and their supporters, that there is absolutely no thought of those in 'other situations' which you describe. This is just more evidence that CPs have an explicitly sexual, political agenda.

Austen Ivereigh said...

Laurence, it's always refreshing to emerge from 350 comments on the Guardian CiF site denouncing me as a vile papist homophobic bigot, and come to your site -- and of course Smeaton's -- to find myself denounced as a liverish liberal at odds with the Magisterium.

You (and he) as usual have only half read what I wrote: I never said civil partnerships for gay people were good; at America magazine last week I explained what was wrong with the civil partnership act: that it restricted legal privileges to same-sex unions, and so created a kind of gay marriage. Bishops here believed - as bishops have in other countries (Italy, France) -- that legal privileges should be extended to long-term stable cohabiting people of all kinds, as Elizabeth says. That was Lord Lester's proposal, rejected by Blair's govt, which would have been quite acceptable to the Church, and which the Church has actually called for: recognising that there are people who are in stable long-term relationships (some might be sexual, but that's not something, you, Smeaton, the Church or the state can try to regulate) who need inheritance and hospital visiting rights (I give the example in the G of maiden aunts or disabled people and their long-term carers). The French law is very sensible: 90% of those who enter civil partnerships there are not same-sex couples. Italy has another example -- again backed by the bishops' conference.

This govt's announcement now takes what's wrong and makes it even more wrong -- by creating a civil partnership exclusively for gay people which they will declare to be capable of being religiously solemnized: that's an attempt to create gay marriage. And I don't think I could have condemned this in the G in stronger terms than I did.

And by the way, what's this constant obsession with what you think I'm paid? What is this thing with money you've got? And why this stuff about me being paid to represent the Church? Look, Catholic Voices is an independent charity which has occasionally paid me and others for specific work, but I earn almost everything from journalism, books and related stuff. The Catholic Church pays me precisely £0.00 a year. That's less than the Church pays you.

The Bones said...

Gosh, you do twist and turn.

1. 'I never said Civil Partnerships were good'.

Well, Austen, I never said that you said they were good either.

I said you did not condemn them in that article, nor did you condemn them because they are overtly sexual unions. Then you can list all the reasons they're wrong and make it clear in the article that all sexual acts outside of marriage are sinful. Which leads me onto your next telling admission.

2. Is being a Catholic in public life really about only saying what you think you can to readers of The Guardian? Must your language and argument be different for Guardian readers than for Telegraph readers. It's typical Austen. Our Lord and His Apostle's didn't really do 'spin' did He or they?

If you cannot say, Austen, what you want to say, because the editorship of The Guardian and its readers will be wanting to stone you while putting their fingers in their ears and gnashing their teeth with rage, then if I were you, I'd tell them to stick their article where the sun don't shine, because, last time I looked this country had free speech.

3. You didn't do that, you wrote a piece which was 'acceptable' to The Guardian. That's why it was printed. Second, that's why you got paid. Ergo, you got paid for (yet another) lukewarm piece of Catholic journalism - money you only get because you are a Catholic sought out for harmless opinion on moral matters.

The Bones said...

I guess this is the reason that you get printed in The Guardian and Damian Thompson tends not to get printed in The Guardian. Damian doesn't seem to compromise his Catholicism just to get his stuff in any liberal rag he can, because he can.

The Bones said...

You could say that the criticism you receive from John, Paul Priest and I is just a result of you serving the Catholic faith lukewarm, not piping hot. After all, Guardian readers are souls as well.

Mary O'Regan said...

I'm a newcomer to the English Catholic scene. I first lived in London in 2007, but still find that I've so much to learn about Catholics and Catholicism in British life.

Coming from Ireland, I have read a lot of negative analysis about Austen Ivereigh and Catholic Voices on the web - but always from other Catholics. But to be fair to real life experience, I was very impressed by the calm and collected way that Austen Ivereigh dismantled Anne Furedi's pro-abortion arguments at a debate on abortion in Kensington in October 2009. Austen did the pro-life side proud.

This may seem irrelevant in this current discussion, but we can at least stand together on that which unites us. That isn't to say that we brush things under the carpet and neglect healthy argument, but rather at the same time we concentrate on how we may stay united and give credit where credit it due.

The Bones said...

Austens biggest fans are 'progressive' liberal Catholics, which speaks volumes for Austen's Catholic credentials.

James, John and I are hated by 'progressive' liberal Catholic. This speaks volumes for our Catholic credentials. Its also why we weren't asked to be a part of Catholic voices.

Austen Ivereigh said...

So I water down Catholic belief to make it palatable to the Guardian, and do so for financial gain? If ever we meet, i hope you'll have the courage to repeat that while looking me in the eye.

The Stage is Set

There is, I don't doubt, a thin line between suspicion, a healthy cynicism informed by observation of recent times and boggle-eyed par...